"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Princesses, Palaces, And Today's Woman - The Sexual Education Of A Young Boy

Barely in First Grade Brent Allen had been the first to show his to Nancy Adams in the woods behind his house.  A precocious little boy said his parents when he proudly told his parents what he had seen.  "It was not what I thought”, he said, never having seen his mother's, and even if he had, it would not have resembled what he saw beneath Nancy's skirt. 

"Once may be enough", said his mother.  "After all, he's only six".  It was intellectual curiosity, she said, only wanting to see what all the mystery was about.  His father knew better, and to be honest, was happy that his son had not wanted to peer down some little boy's pants. 

Robert Allen smiled, thinking of Usha Ismail, the beautiful Pakistani princess who had taken him to the garden estate built by her great-grandfather Jamaluddin Akbar Khan.  Served by a retinue of old retainers and looking out over the formal gardens, an Islamic Palais de Versailles, trimmed true to its original Mughal design, they stayed until Ramadan when the pious Usha would fast from sundown to sunup and pray at the Jama Masjid with the rest of the women in the family who had never left Lahore. 

What had become of Usha, he wondered?  Married to a pasha or prince -  nothing but the best of the Arabian Nights for her, a descendant of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid under whom the epic poem was written whose family had been favored by him and the Baghdadi elite, moved in luxury and style from Arabia to Persia and finally to Lahore where the family was still known for its Islamic purity, gracious Persian style, and modern manners.

Would Robert Allen’s son ever know these delights? And how would he teach him? Could his life of seduction – Princess Usha had invited him to her palace, tempted him, and made love to him in the chambers of Begum Artemesia, consort of the first Caliph of Lahore – be a teachable thing?

A lesson he had learned from his own father was that women wanted sexual intimacy as much as men.  Diffidence and reserve were only tricky turns in the road, slowing down all comers for a closer look.  The savvy man can easily negotiate its curves and hillocks, bide his time until she, as sure as fire from an ember, would take him to her bed.  

And so it was thanks to the patience, attention, and interest taught by his father that Robert Allen had many women, all of whom were delighted to find a man who understood them, charmed them, and listened to them.

Of course there was more to it than just old Bucky Allen’s reminiscences on the back porch.  His words needed fertile ground to take root; and it was his other teaching – breeding a definitive male confidence in the boy – that was the foundation for his other successes, his executive authority, his financial genius, and his political desirability.  Women were attracted to him for the same reason his board of directors was or his investors, or his party.  He was solicitous but recondite.  Those in his attention wanted what they could not have.

In Brent Allen’s day there were few palace chambers and princesses, and the age-old sexual ballet had turned sour, nasty, retributive, and punitive. There was a sexual infection about, a misanthropic meanness and misandry.  Less than a road of twists and turns, sexual pursuit was on a minefield of Bouncing Bettys.  Women no longer wanted to be courted or pursued, but contracted.  A sexual affair was a matter of codicils and bargained arrangements, a pre-sexual vetting and conditioning as airtight as a lawsuit and designed with one in sight.

Women were leapfrogging professionally, increasingly demanding of family and sexual rights, and despite the staying power of décolleté, nail polish, perfume, and high heels, wanted to be owner, manager, and referee of men. The femme image was the new century’s version of the tender trap. What was a man to do?

Although many men have fallen for this bill of goods, this political agenda, and radical civil rights agenda, many others have not.  Automatic complaisance or the laying down of sexual weapons was never an option. 

Women still, regardless of their attempts to deny and dismiss any categorical assumptions about their sexual nature and identity, have not changed; and savvy men take advantage at every turn.  A wife married to a bored husband will always want to have a confident, discordant, infinitely sexual male in her bed; and this alert, sexually predatory male will sense her faithfulness to the idea of a father-man, her more primitive desire for sexual abandon, and her rapture at finding a man who combines both. 

Savvy men get all this – women’s sense of family duty and responsibility (hearth and home), a never-ending desire to hone men to their traditionalism, their conviction that family trumps all make a few spousal dalliances barely relevant.

Although this knowledge was the key to sexual success, it was a pyrrhic victory. Men of Brent’s generation had been cut off from their sexual inheritance.  Negotiating sexual contract law, parsing intent, ratifying approval, reading rules of conduct; and interpreting all to advantage might lead to the same bed, but unpleasantly.

Who read Petrarch’s love sonnets to Laura anymore? Romantic love was out the window, thrown out with the trash.  Seduction was a matter of negotiation, then finding space for some old sexual iconography.  Women were lawyers who wanted a beast in bed; or so explained Brent’s father one evening on the front porch.

There was not a little empathy for his son, felt by a father whose sexual pull-by date had come and gone.  Laying out this new sexual map, deciphering the codes, picking up the signals, and charting a course was all for his son’s benefit, but the father was also his son’s avatar – he would follow the road map in absentia, virtually, but with the same attentiveness he had in the real world.

The war between the sexes had heated up since his day of easy complaisance; and looked at that way it might even be fun to do battle.  Besting women at their own game, weaseling one’s way into sexual confidence given the new pitfalls and bear traps set might well be worth the effort. ‘No’ has never meant no, nor would it ever be.

So Brent went on to be his own man, as confident, mature, and sexually savvy as his father; and only after the old man was well into his nineties and read the boy’s memoirs was he satisfied that this particular apple had not fallen far from the tree. 

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